What’s the best backpack for a cash-strapped student?
I'm a student who's planning a summer road trip to visit some neighboring states and maybe even Canada. I hope to leave the truck for a few days at a time and do a little backpacking, so I'm looking for a pack. Remember, I'm a starving college student, so nothing too expensive please! Mike San Luis Obispo, California
There should be lots of packs to suit you, and I’ll assume you don’t want to spend more than $200.
The first question, of course, is what size to get. I should think that anything between 4,000 and 5,000 cubic inches would be fine. That’ll give you enough room for three or four days of gear and food, without creating a monster pack that lets you pack TOO much. REI’s Morning Star 75 ($145; www.rei.com) is at the high end of that range, coming with a decent suspension built around dual aluminum stays and good gear-organizing design. The Alps Mountaineering Red Tail is about the same size, sells for $170, and has a wide range of belt and shoulder strap options (www.alpsmountaineering.com). It’s a good-looking, cleanly designed pack. Kelty’s Tornado 4000 is at the low end of the same size range, and sells for $150 (www.kelty.com).
You might also look at Granite Gear’s Nimbus Ozone 3800, a new, well-regarded pack that sells for $195 and features just under 4,000 cubic inches of capacity (www.granitegear.com). It has excellent suspension for a pack in this price range, so you could really overstuff the thing and still carry it comfortably.
Have a great summer!